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Who is a Plaintiff?

By Bamidele Kolawole


The Plaintiff is the party bringing a case before the court seeking a legal remedy or redress for a perceived wrong or harm done to him/her. In Nigerian law, the determination of jurisdiction often hinges on the nature of the Plaintiff’s claim, as it is the Plaintiff’s claim that establishes the court’s authority to hear and decide on the matter.

Olubunmi Akinseye Esq

In the secularism, letters are written with addresses, to show where it is coming from and where it is going to. Same thing here, as to who is a Plaintiff.  The case of SHITTA & ors V LIGGALI & ors(1941) 16 NLR 23, Is very instructive and will be useful in the next few explanations.

In bring a Legal action before a formally constituted court, the disputing parties, that is, the person(s) bringing the action and the person(s) the Legal action brings, must be clearly Labeled, in other to show person or group of persons that is instituting (bringing) the action and the person or group of persons been dragged before the court. This is very important because of many reasons and serves many purpose.

The earlier cited case tells us the circumstance under which a person or group of persons must be labeled as such a “PLAINTIFF or PLAINTIFFS”.

According to the cited case above, when a Matter (case) is commenced at a superior court of first instance, via ORIGINATING SUMMONS, the originator(s) is/are referred to as PLAINTIFF/PLAINTIFFS, as the case may be, while the person or group of persons on the opposing side is/are the “DEFENDANT/DEFENDANTS.

However, if the Matter was commenced by some other methods ,the composition of the Parties would surely not be the same. So, a PLAINTIFF is someone who commenced a Civil-Litigation through a WRIT or ORIGINATING SUMMONS. A PLAINTIFF is that person who sued the other person called the DEFENDANT.

Mind you, the option for the term PLAINTIFF is available only in CIVIL Matters and not in Criminal matters.

Barr. Sebiotimo Joshua Esq.

A plaintiff in a normal parlance can be described as a person who feels aggrieved for a particular breach and decides to challenge such breach in a court of law.

A plaintiff can also be described as a person who has a cause of action against another person and as such, files a lawsuit against the other person known as Defendant.

A cause of action arises the moment a wrong is done to the plaintiff by the defendant and the wrong which is the  basis of a dispute represents a factual situation which entitles the plaintiff to seek a remedy in a court of law by way of enforcement. See Khalid v. Maitandu (2024) 5NWLR part 1931.

Jerry Adeyogbe Esq

The term plaintiff is not necessarily one that many of us encounter in our day-to-day lives unless we work within law. However, if you are part of legal proceedings or a lawsuit, it is imperative to understand the word so that you can understand the case as a whole. When you define plaintiff clearly in your head, you can then comprehend the relationship between a plaintiff and defendant and simply know who is the plaintiff in a case, which is a basic, but key fact to fully grasp.

A simple plaintiff meaning or plaintiff definition is that a plaintiff is a person who brings a law case against another person, company, or entity in a court of law. They do so to seek some form of legal solution to an issue they have identified that requires outside judgment. It may also be said that the plaintiff is the party that brings a case against the defendant. In a plaintiff vs defendant scenario in court, the defendant is the person or entity who defends themselves against the charges directed at them.

Given that a plaintiff is the entity that begins any legal proceedings or lawsuits against a defendant, they are the individual seeking a resolution in the eyes of the law in court. If a plaintiff’s case is a success, a court will make a judgment in favor of the plaintiff. They will then make the corresponding judgment which states what the defendant is to do.

In some cases, that will simply be covering the damages the judge believes the defendant should pay the plaintiff. However, there may be other stipulations that the judge decrees necessary for the defendant to meet depending on the case brought by the plaintiff and the evidence provided. It is up to the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s legal team to shoulder the burden of proof. The defendant remains innocent until proven guilty by the evidence provided.

Funmilayo Olagunju Esq.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines plaintiff as the party who brings a civil suit in a Court of Law.

The word is derived from plaint which means a complaint or a statement of grievance brought to Court in search of redress. A Plaintiff is a person who brings a complaint to Court in search of redress.

A plaintiff could be a natural person (human being who has attained the age of majority) or a juristic person (a Corporation with distinct Legal personality that can sue and be sued in its registered name).

In recent time, the term Claimant is often used instead of plaintiff.

Adedeji O Adetula Esq

In any cause of action, after determining the cause of action and the jurisdiction, the next vital thing to look at is the parties to the action.

For a claim to be successful in court, it must be brought against a party or parties. A party can either be a Claimant/Plaintiff or a Defendant in a civil action.

A party to an action is a person whose name is designated as a Plaintiff or Defendant. It refers to those by or against whom a legal suit is brought, whether in law or equity.

A party to an action is either a Plaintiff Defendant, whether composed of one or more individuals and whether natural or legal persons, while a person interested is any other who may be affected by the suit, indirectly or consequently but not a party. See Odedo v. Oguebego (2015) 13 NWLR Part 1476 Page 229 at 256 Para B-E; Fawehinmi v. NBA No.1 (1989) 2 NWLR Part 105 Page 494 at 550-551 per Oputa JSC. In a nutshell, a Plaintiff is a party who brings a civil suit in a court of law. See Black’s Law Dictionary (Supra).

A Plaintiff is also called the Claimant. A Plaintiff in a suit cannot be a Defendant in the same suit.

Obada Toyosi Charles Esq

In the context of Nigerian jurisdiction, a Plaintiff refers to the individual or entity who initiates a legal action or lawsuit against another party in a court of law.

The Plaintiff is the party bringing a case before the court seeking a legal remedy or redress for a perceived wrong or harm done to him/her. In Nigerian law, the determination of jurisdiction often hinges on the nature of the Plaintiff’s claim, as it is the Plaintiff’s claim that establishes the court’s authority to hear and decide on the matter[3][4].

The Plaintiff plays a crucial role in the legal process by presenting him/her case, providing evidence, and seeking a favorable judgment from the court.

Oluwaseun Adeleye Esq

A plaintiff is a person, group, or entity that brings a civil lawsuit to court. The plaintiff is the party who feels they have been wronged in some way by the defendant and seeks legal remedy or compensation for the harm caused.

The plaintiff initiates the legal action by filing a complaint or petition in court, outlining the alleged wrongs committed by the defendant and the relief sought.

In a criminal case, the equivalent of a plaintiff is the prosecution, representing the state or government, which brings charges against the defendant.

A plaintiff in a legal context typically involves initiating a lawsuit or bringing a case to court. Plaintiffs are the individuals or entities (like companies) who bring a case against another party, known as the defendant, seeking a legal remedy or compensation for a harm or injury they have suffered.

Plaintiffs must present their case, provide evidence, and argue why they believe they are entitled to the relief sought.

Adeola Turton, Esq

Here are the key conditions typically required for someone to qualify as a plaintiff in Nigerian courts or tribunals:

Legal Standing: This means they must be directly affected by the issue in question. Locus standing ( or locus standi) refers to the legal right or capacity to bring a case or appear in court. To establish locus standi as a plaintiff, you typically need to show that you have a direct interest in the matter at hand or that you’ve been directly affected by the actions or decisions being challenged. This could include showing personal injury, financial loss, violation of rights. It’s important to demonstrate a sufficient connection to the dispute to justify your involvement.

Interest in the Subject Matter: The plaintiff must have a genuine interest in the subject matter of the case, either because they have suffered harm, have a stake in the outcome, or have a legal right that has been infringed upon.

Privity of Interest: There should be a direct connection between the plaintiff and the subject matter of the case, establishing that the plaintiff is the appropriate party to bring the claim.

Capacity to Sue: The plaintiff must have the legal capacity to sue, meaning they must be of sound mind, of legal age, and not prohibited by law from initiating legal proceedings.

No Alternative Remedies: In some cases, the plaintiff may need to demonstrate that there are no alternative remedies available to address the issue, such as through administrative channels or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

These conditions ensures that the plaintiff has a valid basis for bringing a claim before a Nigerian court or tribunal to seek for relief.

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